Non-violence Football in Sierra Leone
Last December, GBS’ sports management bachelor students, Emmanuel Sesay organized the second edition of his Non-violent Football Tournament, bringing the holiday spirit to Sierra Leone for a week of football and an educative workshop for young children about the virtues and powers of adopting and implementing non-violent philosophies and strategies within their communities, among other activities. Through USports Generation Project, a Swedish non-profit organisation he created to raise awareness of the plight of impoverished communities, and to bring joy and resources through the community building sporting events, on a global scale, he aims to promote social inclusion and integration through football with the aim of becoming a reliable and reputable social pillar. GBS is proud of collaborating with this project donating over 200 football jerseys, and plans to collaborate with this project again in the future with other type of donations from All Campuses. Learn more about last December’s tournament experience in the words of Emmanuel on the interview below.
How was the experience this year?
On the 24th December, we launched the non-violence football tournament, which took place in the Makeni region of Sierra Leone. The tournament consisted of 10 mixed gendered teams, with mostly male participants. The Non-violence football tournament also had a parallel educational component running with it, where educational materials on a range of subjects were provided to the participants such as textbooks and the accompanying stationary.
The tournament run very successfully without any major disruptions or significant problems encountered. There were no violent incidences recorded or reported and the program run with a consistent clarity. This was surprising to the organizers, due to a significant portion of the participants coming for troubled and violent plagued areas with many participating in the past. During our assessment, we noticed that sport can be a major positive factor in this society, particularly in terms of socialization and unity, and in the promoting of peaceful relations especially among the forgotten youth in a fractured society. The tournament was well received by the local community and received extensive news coverage by the local newspaper, radio station and the AYV television network. Additionally, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the participants and the local stakeholders, making for a very successful program.
How many kids participated?
The tournament consisted of 10 mixed gendered teams and we had approximately 300-350 participates. The tournament was absolutely successful and remarkable. The tournament was won by both genders.
Tell us about the non-violence workshops.
Prior to the tournament, we held educational and practical skills workshop where we gave a series of lectures to the participant teams. This workshop content consisted of core educational subjects of math, natural sciences and the English language and practical skills including basic carpentry, electrical and mechanical know-how. Additionally, lectures were given outlining the negative aspects and consequences of participation in the local crime and drug culture and the corresponding outlet that sports can provide in an impoverished society.
Engagement levels and participation were extremely high and positive in nature and this was further reflected in the players ́ general conduct during the course of the tournament were the level of sportsmanship was noticeably higher and aggression less than empirically observed during other organized sporting events and activities in the region. The tournament attracted large numbers of local youth who came to watch the tournaments proceedings and it was a evidently on display the sharing and dissemination of the workshop knowledge when the participants and the local youth ́s mixed during the off-times.
One tournament participant was quoted saying that” Sierra Leone has gone through so much pains during these past years, which has affected us from our education and sports. But this workshop has gave me so much hope and also understand that violence is not the tools our society needs, and I believe some of us here today we will take this for granted to stop violence. We have lost so much friends, family and other because of violence. This is time to put a stop to that.” While many shared the sentiment of the above player, we will monitor the participants future progressions and compare it with local statistics as a control group and see if there were any measurable affects; however, there are many variables that contribute to the group ́s future behavioural patterns
Who were the other voluntary/humanitarian workers?
For the past three years, we have built a strong team in Sierra Leone, most of our voluntaries are from the Makeni community. We also have voluntaries from Switzerland Sweden and Turkey.
Why do you think it’s important to have these kinds of events for kids in Sierra Leone?
Sierra Leone is not a stranger when it comes to hitting the headlines. One of the poorest nations of our planet, Sierra Leone has not only had to face a bloody civil war (1991 – 2002), but once again, had to look into the eyes of death through the tragic outbreak of Ebola (EVD) which hit this nation on May 2014. Sierra Leone was the most widely affected country, with 14,124 cases and 3,956 confirmed deaths as of 21 February 2016. (WHO). A death toll of thousands of Sierra Leoneans, hundreds of people left homeless, orphans… was the result of over 20+ year of man-made and natural tragedies.
After all these crisis, I believe sport is the main platform to bring people together and also to remind the young generations that they have not been forgotten. For the team of Usports Generation, it is important to continue emphasizing their social responsibility through the Sierra Leone activity.
Tell us more about Usports Generation. What is the mission and what are your goals?
Usports Generation is a non-profit organization which is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of improvised communities, to bring joy and much needed resources through the community building sporting events, on a global scale.
In January 2018 in an effort to alleviate the traumatic effects of the endless crisis suffered by the population of Sierra Leone. Usports Generation, organized a charity football tournament in the capital Freetown. Together with One Mic Entertainment and sponsored by Geneva Business School and G-Force, the tournament was a great success. Its main goal was achieved: Remind the young generations that they have not been forgotten. Our mission is to promote social inclusion and integration through football with the aim of becoming a reliable and reputable social pillar that will open up sports opportunities to many teenagers and adolescents who are faced with an uncertain professional and social future. Bringing hope to the young people through sports was the initial goal of Usports, but we achieved so much more. Through the football tournaments we brought together people of all ages, gender and social backgrounds. Through sports, these young people had begun to create a community where hope and future were words that kept ringing in the ears of all. United through the beauty of sports and fair play, these Sierra Leoneans once again felt proud of being who they are. It was a success for Usports Generation thanks to this young generation that fights every single day, where their future is based on periods of 24 hours.
What is in store for next year? Will there be a third edition, will it be in Sierra Leone, will it be bigger, will there be more educational workshops?
Yes, there be a third edition, we are working very hard to keep the football tournament rolling every year. We are now working on a big project. But this time much bigger. we believe in education and sports, therefore, our next project will be building a school and sports facilities, where these kids will have the opportunity to engage themselves. We believe, having a school and sports facilities will reduce so many things in society. Especially, crime, drugs, and discrimination etc. This will continue to bring hope and future to these youth/kids.
We will like to take this opportunity to thank GBS for being supportive all these years. Today GBS have changed so many lives and bring hope to these kids. Without GBS support this would have been very difficult.